Sustainability Awards judge in profile: Architectus’ Elizabeth Watson Brown

  •   26 June 2017

Elizabeth Watson Brown, a judge on this year’s Sustainability Awards, joined Architectus as design director after 21 years of directing Elizabeth Watson Brown Architect.

Watson Brown is an active participant in architectural and urban design discourse in many roles, including currently as a member of the Queensland Board for Urban Places and as Adjunct Professor of Architecture at the University of Queensland. She is also a Life Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects and has been Queensland State Awards Director and National Awards Juror, as well as jury chair of the Gold Coast Urban Design Awards.

Architecture and Design spoke to her about passive climatic design, carbonisation and the use of high-tech materials.

What are you looking for as a judge?

Good holistic environmentally responsible thinking evident from conception to fruition.

Designers getting the fundamentals of responsible passive climatic design right from the outset – and that being the design driver.
How much do you think sustainable design has changed over the past couple of years?

Hopefully it is now a given, and should not even be categorised separately. Good design must be sustainable design – one and the same thing.

It seems harder now for people to concentrate on the big issues. There are some easy choices like sustainable materials, but many designers do not understand the fundamentals of passive climatic design and rely heavily on high tech materials instead.
What do you think is the most pressing sustainability issue for the industry at the moment?

Climate change. Carbonisation. Fossil fuel emissions.

People are easily distracted from that. We need to address overbuilding. The ridiculous oversizing of houses is part of that problem. We need to recycle and efficiently use space as well as materials.
What is a new technology or approach that you hope gains wider use?

Definitely efficient capture battery storage for solar energy.

Do you think sustainability is still an add-on or is it incorporated holistically?

Yes, unfortunately. There is still very little understanding of the fundamentals of good passive climatic design – people are distracted by whizz-bang technologies.

Where do you see sustainable design heading in the next few years?

Rapid decarbonisation is absolutely and urgently essential.